LeBron James recently passed Karl Malone to move into second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and at his current pace he will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the middle of next season to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Abdul-Jabbar said on Sunday that he was good with that.
"I think its about time. I'm not gonna get jealous of LeBron, he deserves it," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to @malika_andrews on the ESPN broadcast, when asked about LeBron eventually passing his all-time regular season scoring record.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 3, 2022
However, Abdul-Jabbar said LeBron should be “embarrassed” by some of the other things he’s done. Abdul-Jabbar spoke with reporters at the Lakers’ game, discussing the unveiling of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Trophy handed out to the league’s annual Social Justice Champion award (Carmelo Anthony won it this year). Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see,” Abdul-Jabbar said… “Some of the great things that he’s done, he’s standing on both sides of the fence almost, you know? It makes it hard for me to accept that when he’s committed himself to a different take on everything. It’s hard to figure out where he’s standing. You’ve got to check him out every time.”
Specifically, Abdul-Jabbar had an issue with some of James’ comments and actions surrounding COVID-19. LeBron supported Andrew Wiggins when, during training camp, he was hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine (Wiggins eventually did get the shot because of the vaccine mandate in San Francisco that would have kept him from playing). LeBron also shared a meme on Instagram that likened the coronavirus to the flu or cold. Then there was Abdul-Jabbar calling out LeBron when he celebrated a big bucket with a “big balls” dance,” saying, “GOATs don’t dance.
Abdul-Jabbar said he would be happy to speak to LeBron about their differences.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he’d be willing to meet Lakers’ LeBron James to discuss their differences on issues like vaccine advocacy: “I admire the things he’s done… Sending a whole school to college, wow, that’s amazing… Some of the things he’s done he should be embarrassed by.” pic.twitter.com/0QlNMNUXit
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 3, 2022
To be clear, this is a civil and respectful disagreement between LeBron and Abdul-Jabbar, not a beef with bad blood. They are activists of different generations who view some things differently. Abdul-Jabbar touched on that when he walked back his comments later on Twitter.
Today a reporter asked me a question about Lebron James and I regret my off-handed response which has been blown out of proportion. For years I’ve expressed my deep admiration and respect for LeBron as a community leader and athlete. That hasn’t changed and never will. – @KAJ33
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) April 4, 2022
These topics will come up again as LeBron closes in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record next season.